Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

God Loves That Attitude

Posted on July 26th, 2021

Acts 17:1-15

INTRO:
In our last sermon we left Paul and Silas being freed from prison. The preachers through teaching the gospel had led a bunch of people to be freed from their sins and there was also a slave girl who was freed from demon possession. Then they both left Philippi after spending some time with Lydia and her household. Our text for today will be Acts 17:1-15 though we will look at a number of other verses also.

We catch up with Paul and Silas on their second missionary journey at Thessalonica in chapter 17. Acts 17:1-4 – “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia , they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.'' And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.”

Paul tells us in Acts 22:3 – “"I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.” Paul was well qualified to use the scriptures and reason with the Jews. You see he knew his audience and he knew exactly what to say even though sometimes that meant saying words which were going to hurt.

I. Luke didn’t tell us why Paul passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia. He did tell us that the next stop on this second missionary tour was Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Remember that Philippi did not have a synagogue, so Paul and Silas went to the place of prayer in Philippi.

A. Here in Thessalonica, they had a synagogue, so Paul went there for three consecutive Sabbaths to reason with the Jews. We notice how Paul and Silas preached in the city. Verses 2-3 tell us that they "reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead".
B. Remember that the very idea of a crucified Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jews as we find in 1 Corinthians 1:23. What Paul does here is argue from the prophets, saying that this was precisely what God had foretold in Isaiah 53. He then goes on to establish the fact that God had also planned and accomplished Jesus' resurrection from the dead and made Him King over His people.

1. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul says, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”
2. What Paul does in other words, is show that all these things which were recorded by the prophets were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The scriptural evidence was supported by the miracles worked by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians from Corinth he writes, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 – “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” There was more than enough proof that Jesus was the risen messiah.
4. It was during these three weeks teaching in the synagogue in Thessalonica that Paul and Silas worked with their own hands to support themselves. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 – “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”

C. There are three things they did in their preaching: reasoning, explaining, and proving.

1. This is an important lesson that all Christians must see. All of us need to be able to reason from the scriptures, explaining and proving the things which we believe. We must develop the personal tools to be able to reason, explain, and prove the scriptures. We have to put forth some effort and time in study to be able to do this.
2. Consider that Paul and Silas did not ask the people of Thessalonica to have "blind faith" in Jesus. Paul and Silas used logic and reason to teach the people that what happened to Jesus was necessary and that Jesus is the Christ. We must be able to defend our faith.

D. The point we see here is that the combination of scriptural preaching, the miracles and the apostle's obvious commitment to reach the lost had its desired effect. With the proofs presented, the efforts of Paul and Silas were rewarded as Luke tells us in Acts 17:4 “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women”. Some believe the gospel, others do not; but the difference lies in the hearts of the hearers. The gospel is a message of life to some, death to others.

1. It is to these young Christians whom Paul refers when he writes to the church that meets at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 – “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,”. What a great way to be remembered as a congregation! They used to worship idols but now they have turned to God.
2. We should never forget who we used to be and where we came from and who we are now. If someone were to write a letter about us, the congregation here at Chardon, I wonder what they would say about us? I wonder if they would focus on who we were or what we have become?
3. I believe there is a time and a place to talk about our former lives before we became Christians. I think the reason we should do that is to contrast our lives before we became Christians with our present Christian selves.
4. The Bible clearly reminds us who we were and what we have become. I’m thinking of Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”
5. You used to be dead in your sins but now God has made you alive in Christ Jesus. You used to look to the world for the answers to life, but now you turn to the living God for those answers. Just like Paul and Silas did with these Jews and Gentiles, you are persuaded that Jesus truly is Lord over everything and your life needs to reflect that persuasion. It’s only when we remember who we used to be in reference to being sinners, that can we show those who are still dead in their sins the way back to life.

E. One preacher suggested that perhaps we can only start to help people outside if we see them as dead. Yes, they may be walking around singing and being merry. Yes, they may give the appearance of being alive, but you and I know all too well that they are dead in their sins. It’s our responsibility to show them the way back to life.

II. Following on in Acts 17, what we have seen happening a number of times throughout the Book of Acts, is there are those who are made alive in Christ and those who choose to remain dead in their sins. Acts 17:5-10 – “But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. "Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king Jesus.'' And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea.”

A. Other then the “some” mentioned, the response of the Jews in Thessalonica is total resistance and fury against the message of the word of God. Even though Paul and Silas would defend the scriptures through reasoning, explanations, and proofs, these people would not listen. The people violently opposed the teachings so fiercely that a mob formed.

1. This can be the response of people today. Some people weigh the evidence and think that it is not for them. But many times, as it was in Thessalonica, people simply choose to be mentally shut off to the possibility that there is a God who requires something from them. There are even those today who go to great lengths to attack others who believe in God.
2. Luke says that Paul’s words moved the unbelieving element of the Jews to jealousy. These jealous Jews enlisted the help of some trouble makers and stirred up a mob to go to Jason's house and bring Paul and Silas out.

B. I guess if you can’t find the people you’re looking for, you will take the next best thing, and that’s what the mob did. When they couldn’t find the two missionaries, the mob dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the rulers of the city. Then the accusations began to flow. They accused Paul and Silas of being part of the number who turned the world upside down by teaching that Jesus was King.

1. I do not suppose that there are many who are aggressively fighting against God in the same way that we see in Thessalonica, but there may be some who do not want to listen to any discussion about God. There may be some who do not want to hear the explanation and proofs of the scriptures, for Jesus, and for God.

a. Why have such a mentality? What does truth have to fear? Should we all not want to engage in honest, open, and friendly discussion about the existence of God and Jesus and the trustworthiness of the scriptures?
b. We should want to know the truth, even if it does not mesh with what we believe, because it is the truth.

2. Ignoring the truth does not change the outcome. Ignoring the speed limit does not mean that I will not get a ticket, because the truth is that there is a law against speeding. In the same way, ignoring God does not change the fact that He exists, and if we willfully are violators we will receive punishment. We should want to find the truth. Our lives depend upon the knowledge of truth and ignorance cannot help us.

III. It was during this mess that Paul and Silas were sent away by night to Berea, some 50 or 60 miles away. Acts 17:10-12 – “... When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded (some translations say “more noble”) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.”[NKJV]

A. Luke tells us that Paul and Silas immediately entered the synagogue to teach as had been their custom in every city they entered. However, the character of the Bereans was far different than the character of the people in Thessalonica. Rather than base their decisions on the traditional teachings, the Bereans carefully examined the word of God to determine the truthfulness of the teachings they heard.

1. As a result many Jews believed the gospel along with honorable Greek women and not a few men. The key word I see here is “many” as contrasted to “some” in Thessalonica.
2. Don’t you just love the attitude of the Bereans? I do and so does God. They did not go to their neighbor, or as we might social media, or take some poll or survey to verify what they heard. They did not rely on opinions of their family or the scuttlebutt at work or most importantly, on the traditions they had been taught.
3. Even the word of an apostle is studied and verified in light of the scriptures. Today we are bombarded with opinions about virtually everything and that includes the gospel. How do we respond? Who do we listen to? We need to think for ourselves and examine the scriptures for ourselves.
4. Do not think that it is a simple thing to be open-minded when it comes to teachings. The Greeks had believed in a myriad of gods. It was difficult for them to believe that there is only one true God. The Jews had believed that Jesus was not their Messiah. It was difficult for them to accept that their brethren had killed Jesus who was sent from God to be their Messiah. We must be willing to make changes in the face of truth, regardless of how hard it may be to accept. The truth may indeed hurt when it confronts long held belief.

B. I pray that more people in the world would have that same attitude--an attitude that checks out the Scriptures for themselves.

1. What about when we are teaching, telling someone about Jesus and what God has done and can do in their life? Wouldn’t it be good if the people we try to share the Bible with rechecked it for themselves to make sure that what we are teaching is true?
2. Let me ask you, how do you know what I, or any one preaching here says is true? You can go home today and think to yourself that was a great lesson you heard, but never take the time to reflect and double check what I’ve preached... with the word of God.
3. We’ve had visitors to this congregation who have said they have really enjoyed the lesson, they were happy to hear again things that they have not heard for years. At the same time, I wonder if those very same people will go home and look into the Scriptures to see if that really is the case. We’ve had people come and go and agree with everything we teach but they won’t read the Bible for themselves and do what the Bible says.

IV. James 1:22-25 tells us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

A. James tells us that not only should we be reading the word of God, but we really need to be doing what it says. Because if we don’t, in essence we’re just deceiving ourselves. We’re deceiving ourselves into thinking we are something when we’re not. In other words as the saying goes, don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

1. We all know people who profess one thing, but their lives reflect another thing. Don’t tell the world that you love God if you can’t be bothered to come and worship Him every week! Don’t tell the world you really appreciate what Christ has done for you if all you do is live your life the way you did before you became a Christian!
2. A Christian is a person who not only follows Christ but obeys Him. Folks, there’s a world of difference between a person who struggles with sin and someone who just blatantly goes ahead and sins.

V. Now I ask you; Have you spotted the underlining problem with these troublemakers which Luke refers to here in Acts? When it comes to preaching the word of God, there will be those who believe, who humbly accept the message, and those who don’t accept and are filled with jealousy.

A. In Acts 5 when the apostles were performing many miracles and a great number of people believed, Luke tells us in Acts 5:17 – “Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,” (i.e. jealousy).

1. When the apostles were in Antioch, we see again that their preaching upset certain people and Luke tells us in Acts 13:45 – “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.”
2. Here again in our text at Acts 17 Luke reports that these people who were jealous stirred more jealousy among the unbelieving Jews of Thessalonica who then journeyed to Berea and stirred up the multitudes there.
3. Acts 17:13-15 – “But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.”[NKJV]

B. Jealousy is a sin and sin prevents a person inheriting the kingdom of God. I’m going to refer you to Galatians 5:19-21 here and I paraphrase – “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” .[para]
C. Since it is a sin, jealousy is one of those things which should have been put off at your baptism. As Romans 13:13-14 says; “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” [para]

1. Jealousy and envy are powerful tools for the adversary to use, and Satan is well versed in their use. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person.
2. For example, God says in Exodus 20:17 – “"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.''”
3. That’s envy but jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person. Although jealousy can apply to our jobs, our possessions, or our reputations, the word more often refers to anxiety which comes when we are afraid that the affections of a loved one might be lost to a rival.
4. We may fear that our husband or wife, or perhaps our children, will be lured away by some other person who, when compared to us, seems to be more attractive, capable, and successful.

D. That’s what is happening here in Acts, whenever the apostles have any success, and a multitude of people begin to listen to them--the unbelievers get filled with jealousy. They are afraid that they will no longer be popular within the community. They are afraid that the apostles will take these believers away from them and their traditions.
E. Luke tells us that these jealous troublemakers come to Berea and stir things up there also. It reminds me of the parable in Matthew 20 where the workers who had been hired first, were jealous of those who had been hired last when they all received the same pay. In that case the jealous workers “...murmured against the landowner, "saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.'” Matthew 20:11-12.

1. "You have made them equal to US!" There is the root of the trouble. WE have done the work, shouldered the load, borne the heat, and carried the mail so to speak. Those latecomers ought to be way down on the scale compared to US! Folks, we all can experience the US problem. Satan is very, very good at using it. It even existed among the sacred numbers of the twelve apostles.
2. But wherever the problem exists, nothing solves it like getting things in the proper perspective. That is what Jesus sought to do with this parable in Matthew. The FIRST ones became last by their very bitterness and pettiness and their self-righteous preference for themselves above others; and those LAST became first by their loving trust of the householder. In Acts the Jewish unbelievers will become last in the same way.

F. Luke goes on to say that some of the brethren escorted Paul safely to the sea while Silas and Timothy continued at Berea. Then the brethren journeyed on to Athens with Paul and were asked by the apostle to send Silas and Timothy as soon as possible.

CONCLUSION:
Paul taught with reasoning, explaining, and proving. Then there were the miracles. As we study Acts we see that some simply mocked what Paul said, others actively resisted the gospel. Both rejected the evidence out of hand without checking.

Today is the same. God has presented the evidence in this world so that mankind would seek to find Him. Atheists and evolutionists have presented their evidence. It is time for you to decide. But God is not on trial. Your soul is on trial. Your eternal existence is at stake.
If you reject the evidence, then you are declaring that you are willing to take the chance that when you die there is nothing. There is no accountability, there is no final reward, there is not final judgment, that there is absolutely nothing. You are saying that this life and this moment that we have right now, is all that there is. If you believe this, then at best you have a few decades of life left and at worse, you will lose your life by some accident today.

If you accept the evidence for God, then you are declaring that you realize the evidence is there. You may still have some doubts, but you realize that there must be something to life more than this. You realize that our moral consciences must come from something. You realize that life and this world must have been created.

Your soul hangs in the balance. If there is anything after death, if there is any light at the end of the tunnel, if loved ones are waiting for us, and if we are more than just matter that goes to the dust, then we must get ready because God says that there is a fixed day for judgment. What will you do if you are not ready?
God has commanded all people to repent. We must seek the Lord and do as he commands. His commands are not burdensome. In fact, following God will bring you peace and true joy that nothing else in this world brings. You will be ready to stand on the day of judgment and know that your soul is spared. Why take the risk? What profit is there to ignore even the possibility that there is a God? Obey before the day comes.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
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Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

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